Legal Processes in Maine

Legal Processes in Maine

Every case is unique and can take unexpected turns along the way. Below are descriptions of the typical process involved with some of our most common case types, but this is merely an overview. For a detailed assessment of your legal issue, contact our office to request a consultation.

Commercial Law
  1. Demand Letter

    The first step in most business or commercial law actions is to clearly communicate and document the dispute with the other party, often through a demand letter. If needed, our attorneys can help you prepare and send a demand letter.

  2. Complaint

    If the demand letter does not work in resolving the dispute to your satisfaction, filing a complaint with the appropriate court is usually the next step. Our team can help you determine where and how to file.

  3. Answer Or Default

    In most cases, the defendant has 20 days to file an answer to your complaint, which may include the defendant’s alleged defense to your claims. If no answer is filed, you will likely receive a default judgment.

  4. Discovery

    Our team will work to collect all information and evidence relevant to your case, a process called discovery. This begins as soon as we take on your case but moves into high gear once the answer and any possible defenses have been filed.

  5. Negotiation Or Mediation

    Armed with the facts, our skilled attorneys will negotiate with the defendant and their legal team to reach a favorable settlement on your behalf. In some situations, mediation may be appropriate or possibly required by the court.

  6. Settlement Or Trial

    Most business law cases are able to settle outside of court, avoiding the time and cost of a trial. However, if going to court is necessary to defend your interests, our experienced litigators are ready to fight for you at every step.

  7. Enforcement Or Appeal

    All parties must comply with the terms of the settlement or court order. If the defendant does not comply, we can help you explore legal options for enforcement. When necessary, we can also help appeal unfavorable decisions.

Criminal Defense
  1. Pre-Arrest

    When police believe illegal activity has occurred, they begin an investigation. This involves collecting evidence, obtaining search warrants, and interviewing witnesses. For some allegations, blood or urine samples may be requested.

  2. Arrest

    If police think enough evidence exists to make an arrest, they may ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant or simply take the suspect into custody. Police must have probable cause, as determined by evidence from the investigation, to make an arrest.

  3. Arraignment

    The defendant’s first appearance in front of a judge is often called an arraignment, though the exact process will depend on the type of charges. During this first appearance, the defendant is made aware of the charges and enters their plea.

  4. Pre-trial

    During the discovery, or pre-trial phase, your attorney and the opposing counsel will exchange information about the case. Pre-trial motions may also be entered, like requesting that charges are dropped, or evidence is excluded.

  5. Trial

    We work hard to settle clients’ cases without going to trial. But if a trial is necessary to defend you, our team will not shy away from a fight. After each side presents its case at trial, a judge or jury will decide if the defendant is guilty.

  6. Sentencing

    Defendants who plead guilty or are found guilty will be given a sentence that the court feels is appropriate based on the circumstances of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history, among other factors.

  7. Appeals

    A guilty verdict isn’t necessarily the end of your case. In many situations, our defense attorneys can help you appeal your conviction or sentence if there is evidence that the police, court, or jury acted inappropriately.

Estate Planning
  1. Assign Health Care Agent

    If you become incapacitated and cannot make healthcare decisions for yourself, your health care agent, usually a loved one or close friend, will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf.

  2. Select Financial Agent

    Your financial agent can make certain financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to handle these matters. Powers given to the financial agent vary but may include overseeing bank accounts, a business, or legal claims.

  3. Inventory Assets

    Creating a complete and detailed list of your property, assets, and accounts can help you make decisions about how to handle these items after your passing. This list will also help your attorney determine the best options for your estate.

  4. Identify Beneficiaries

    The individuals who will receive your assets are known as beneficiaries. By leaving clear and specific instructions for how to divide your property, you can help avoid confusion or conflict among your loved ones.

  5. Formalize Estate Plan

    To make your final wishes legally binding, you must create an estate transfer plan, usually a will or trust, using estate planning documents that adhere to Maine’s requirements, and have these documents notarized.

  6. Secure Documents

    It is critical to keep the original copies of your estate plan in a safe and secure place. It can also be helpful to give copies to your beneficiaries and make sure they know where to find the original when needed.

  7. Update Plan as Needed

    An estate plan is not something you can “set and forget.” As your relationships and property change over time, it may be necessary to revise your estate plan with an attorney. This is common after a divorce, for example.

  1. File or Receive Complaint

    The divorce process officially begins when one spouse completes, serves, and files the appropriate forms. The spouse receiving the forms (being served) will have an opportunity to respond to any claims made.

  2. Financial Disclosure

    Both parties are required to file financial disclosure affidavits detailing their assets and debts in order to help the court and the other party make equitable decisions about support and property division issues.

  3. Initial Conference

    The parties come together in court for the first time at the Case Management Conference (or, for couples without children, a Pre-Trial Conference). This is a chance for the court to understand what issues, if any, are contested.

  4. Mediation

    In Maine, divorcing couples with minor children are required to attend mediation if they cannot agree on parenting and support issues. While participating in mediation is required, reaching an agreement through these talks is not mandatory.

  5. Interim Orders

    For contested matters that need to be addressed quickly, like where the children will live or who gets to drive which car, the court may issue interim orders if no agreement is reached in mediation. These apply until the divorce is final.

  6. Hearing

    Negotiations will continue, and we will advocate for a fair settlement. But, if necessary, our experienced litigators are prepared to defend your best interests in a divorce hearing, in which the remaining disputes will be decided by a judge.

  7. Final Order

    Once a settlement or divorce decree is reached, a final order is entered in court, which officially ends the marriage. Maine requires a minimum of 60 days from initial filing before a final divorce order can be issued.

Personal Injury
  1. Injury Occurs

    Not all injuries justify a personal injury claim. If you were hurt by the reckless or negligent actions of another person, organization, or product, you should discuss the possibility of filing an injury claim with a skilled attorney.

  2. Complaint

    Injury claims begin by filing a complaint against the responsible party, or defendant. The complaint states the nature of your injuries, why you believe the defendant is liable, and the damages (or compensation) you are seeking.

  3. Discovery

    After the defendant replies to the complaint, your lawyer will begin gathering evidence to support your claim, a process called discovery. This may involve requesting and sharing evidence with the opposition, taking statements, or consulting experts.

  4. Pretrial Litigation

    Before a trial begins, your attorney may request court orders known as pretrial motions to help move the case along. These can be used to force the other party to share evidence or to request summary judgment to resolve a case quickly.

  5. Negotiations

    Your attorney will continue to work with the defendant and their legal team to negotiate a favorable resolution to your claim. We advocate aggressively for the compensation you and your family deserve.

  6. Settlement or Trial

    Our goal is to settle claims in the most efficient and favorable way, and often we achieve this through negotiations. However, if no agreement is reached, our experienced litigators will defend your interests in court at a trial.

  7. Collection or Appeal

    If you are awarded damages, your attorney will assist you in collecting and distributing the compensation. When appropriate, our attorneys can also help you appeal an unfavorable court settlement.

Real Estate Services

The process a real estate case follows can vary widely depending on the nature of the issue. Here are some of the common property issues we handle.

  1. Purchase & Sale

    Our firm often represents clients involved in complex or non-standard commercial and residential property transactions in Maine. These can include anything from residential beachfront property to factories and industrial facilities.

  2. Commercial Development

    We assist stakeholders in acquiring, managing, and developing commercial property for projects of all sizes and uses. We also work with investors interested in forming a limited liability company for real estate development.

  3. Litigation

    When real estate disputes require litigation, our team of aggressive and experienced attorneys is ready to defend your interests, including requesting emergency injunctive relief to prevent the obstruction or destruction of property.

  4. Easement & Boundary Disputes

    Disputes may arise over the exact boundary of a property or how shared property may be used. Our lawyers handle a wide variety of boundary and easement matters, from utility access issues to the development of subdivisions.

  5. Financing

    With experience in both real estate and commercial law, our firm is well-positioned to represent borrowers and lenders in property transactions, including the coordination of permitting, land-use compliance, and document preparation.

  6. Condominiums

    Our firm assists condominium and homeowners’ association boards, as well as developers and investors, with the legal requirements of condominium formation and management, including financing, by-law issues, and property development.

  7. Zoning & Permitting

    When real estate projects require zoning changes, our attorneys will effectively represent you before the appropriate governing body. We can also assist with acquiring permits and defending clients against permit challenges.

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